Looking for Beta Readers

2

Comments

  • Okay mister format-nazi

    Gosh, if this was Germany you would be arrested for using that term. But I see you complied anyway  :)

  • But (and this is a big consideration), because doing a thorough job on a complete MS is in fact a time-consuming chore it may be difficult to find someone who would be willing to do this gratis. But, as I said, some of the others here may have advice or suggestions regarding that.

    I fully agree with that, hence why I suggested some could be pasted in to here. Pasted in to here it is possible to read and make direct comments on a just a few paragraphs, that are an example of what the rest of the story is going to be like, and how it should all perhaps be adjusted without having to read it all.

  • Well, I'm still querying, but agents are so fickle and picky with what they're looking for, they rarely go out on a limb on a new author unless the work is mainstream. They want Fantasy, Scifi, Erotica, YA, and MG. I'm trying to make a presence and get noticed among writing communities, but I know I will eventually self-publish.

    They want all manner of things to try to get published, hence why it does, and many do specialise, but they are "fickle and picky" because they know what sells, and to whom.

  • If I posted entire chapters here, it'd be WAY too long.
  • Scroll up to my previous posting.
  • I see marked improvement. The pacing is better, the structure seems to flow better, and I get a more engaging feel from the opening paragraphs. There are still a couple of things I'd address, such as:

    1. Full justification. If you fully justify these pages, it will take care of a lot of the white space Kevin is complaining about. Also, it will look like most books, and the reader's eye will move more naturally from line to line.

    2. There's still a lot of raw exposition. It's better, but it's a bit of a data dump in places. For example:

    Ethel saw eye to eye with Sonyai, being five-foot-two while wearing two-
    inch heels. A solid two hundred and eighty-five pounds, she always wore
    various New York sports team headscarves on her head.

    This morning she was wearing green cotton slacks with a matching green
    blouse. “For starters, Robin is a unisex name. He’s identified as a woman on
    file, but he’s actually a guy. Some sorta typo they can’t fix.”


    Maybe:

    Ethyl, five-two plus her two-inch heels, looked Sonyai eye to eye. Her headscarf supported the Jets today. She leaned her two hundred eighty-five pounds against Sonyai's desk and shot her a conspiratorial smile.

    "For starters," she said, "Robin is a unisex name..." (no other changes to this paragraph)

    “So she’s expecting another woman. Makes sense. Every hire since she
    took over has been a chick. Look at the pages. I guess she’d thought she’d tip
    the scales, outnumbering the men three-to-two on the clerical staff,” Gerry
    mused.

    “Coincidence I’m sure!” Ethel snapped.

    Gerry nodded towards the round woman in her green cotton slacks and matching blouse. "So," he mused, "She's expecting another woman. Makes sense, I guess, since every hire she's made has been a woman. They outnumber men three to two on the clerical staff."

    "Coincidence," snapped Ethyl. "I'm sure of it."

    “Well, that’ll be fun to see her reaction. Please tell me he’s also a brother,”
    he pleaded. “Walker sounds like one of our slave names.”

    “He is, actually,” she replied with more annoyance.

    Gerry had a tendency to incite conflicts due to race issues within the
    diverse staff. 58th Street was a melting pot reflection of New York City itself.


    "It'll sure be fun to see her reaction. Please tell me he's also a brother," he pleaded. "Walker could be a slave name."

    Ethyl grimaced, hoping Gerry wouldn't turn this incident into another of his infamous race conflicts. "He is," she said. "Our staff is very diverse. We are a melting pot, reflective of the city as a whole."

    It doesn't need to go exactly as I've written -- this is just how I might write the scene -- but I've tried to blend in the exposition a bit more, and make it flow with the story.

    Now, some of the exposition may not be necessary. It's interesting that Ethyl wears scarves, and that they always support NY teams. But it might be better to give a couple of specific examples -- today, she's wearing the Jets; tomorrow, perhaps mention the Giants, then have someone speculate that the Yankees will be next... That way you're not forced to say it outright, and the reader is still able to generalize that her scarves support NY teams. Overall, the scarf fact builds Ethyl's character.

    However, unless one of the other characters is going to make an unkind remark that she resembles a green tomato, we really don't need to know that she's wearing green cotton slacks and a green blouse. I suppose that natural fibers and a penchant for green would also add to our understanding of the character, but it doesn't seem as important as the scarves.

    On the other hand, if she wore floral-patterned polyester and tried to groove her round body to "Stayin' Alive" as she moved through the stacks, well, then the fabric and the colors would be relevant, to help make a funny picture in our minds. That's not to say that fat is funny, or anything like that, of course. I'm just showing how her outfit might or might not be relevant to your goal for the scene.

    As for Gerry and his racial concerns, that information will come to us more smoothly if we see it reflected off of someone else -- such as Ethyl being concerned that Gerry will create a race issue from Robin being a brother who is mistaken for a sister. This is important information, incidentally: We've all met the fellow who lives to "stir the pot" and create trouble, all the while escaping any of the resulting mess. This helps us find a pigeon-hole for Gerry.

    As Ron said, you've got some talent and some skill as a writer. Now it's a matter of honing those skills as you become your own editor.

    FWIW. I hope that helps.
  • Ron MillerRon Miller Professor
    edited September 2018

    But (and this is a big consideration), because doing a thorough job on a complete MS is in fact a time-consuming chore it may be difficult to find someone who would be willing to do this gratis. But, as I said, some of the others here may have advice or suggestions regarding that.

    I fully agree with that, hence why I suggested some could be pasted in to here. Pasted in to here it is possible to read and make direct comments on a just a few paragraphs, that are an example of what the rest of the story is going to be like, and how it should all perhaps be adjusted without having to read it all.


    I deleted my original comment since it had been based on a too-early-in-the-morning misreading of this post.

    __________________________________________
    Black Cat Studios http://www.black-cat-studios.com/
  • Skoob_ym said:
    I see marked improvement. The pacing is better, the structure seems to flow better, and I get a more engaging feel from the opening paragraphs. There are still a couple of things I'd address, such as:

    1. Full justification. If you fully justify these pages, it will take care of a lot of the white space Kevin is complaining about. Also, it will look like most books, and the reader's eye will move more naturally from line to line.

    2. There's still a lot of raw exposition. It's better, but it's a bit of a data dump in places. For example:

    Ethel saw eye to eye with Sonyai, being five-foot-two while wearing two-
    inch heels. A solid two hundred and eighty-five pounds, she always wore
    various New York sports team headscarves on her head.

    This morning she was wearing green cotton slacks with a matching green
    blouse. “For starters, Robin is a unisex name. He’s identified as a woman on
    file, but he’s actually a guy. Some sorta typo they can’t fix.”


    Maybe:

    Ethyl, five-two plus her two-inch heels, looked Sonyai eye to eye. Her headscarf supported the Jets today. She leaned her two hundred eighty-five pounds against Sonyai's desk and shot her a conspiratorial smile.

    "For starters," she said, "Robin is a unisex name..." (no other changes to this paragraph)

    “So she’s expecting another woman. Makes sense. Every hire since she
    took over has been a chick. Look at the pages. I guess she’d thought she’d tip
    the scales, outnumbering the men three-to-two on the clerical staff,” Gerry
    mused.

    “Coincidence I’m sure!” Ethel snapped.

    Gerry nodded towards the round woman in her green cotton slacks and matching blouse. "So," he mused, "She's expecting another woman. Makes sense, I guess, since every hire she's made has been a woman. They outnumber men three to two on the clerical staff."

    "Coincidence," snapped Ethyl. "I'm sure of it."

    “Well, that’ll be fun to see her reaction. Please tell me he’s also a brother,”
    he pleaded. “Walker sounds like one of our slave names.”

    “He is, actually,” she replied with more annoyance.

    Gerry had a tendency to incite conflicts due to race issues within the
    diverse staff. 58th Street was a melting pot reflection of New York City itself.


    "It'll sure be fun to see her reaction. Please tell me he's also a brother," he pleaded. "Walker could be a slave name."

    Ethyl grimaced, hoping Gerry wouldn't turn this incident into another of his infamous race conflicts. "He is," she said. "Our staff is very diverse. We are a melting pot, reflective of the city as a whole."

    It doesn't need to go exactly as I've written -- this is just how I might write the scene -- but I've tried to blend in the exposition a bit more, and make it flow with the story.

    Now, some of the exposition may not be necessary. It's interesting that Ethyl wears scarves, and that they always support NY teams. But it might be better to give a couple of specific examples -- today, she's wearing the Jets; tomorrow, perhaps mention the Giants, then have someone speculate that the Yankees will be next... That way you're not forced to say it outright, and the reader is still able to generalize that her scarves support NY teams. Overall, the scarf fact builds Ethyl's character.

    However, unless one of the other characters is going to make an unkind remark that she resembles a green tomato, we really don't need to know that she's wearing green cotton slacks and a green blouse. I suppose that natural fibers and a penchant for green would also add to our understanding of the character, but it doesn't seem as important as the scarves.

    On the other hand, if she wore floral-patterned polyester and tried to groove her round body to "Stayin' Alive" as she moved through the stacks, well, then the fabric and the colors would be relevant, to help make a funny picture in our minds. That's not to say that fat is funny, or anything like that, of course. I'm just showing how her outfit might or might not be relevant to your goal for the scene.

    As for Gerry and his racial concerns, that information will come to us more smoothly if we see it reflected off of someone else -- such as Ethyl being concerned that Gerry will create a race issue from Robin being a brother who is mistaken for a sister. This is important information, incidentally: We've all met the fellow who lives to "stir the pot" and create trouble, all the while escaping any of the resulting mess. This helps us find a pigeon-hole for Gerry.

    As Ron said, you've got some talent and some skill as a writer. Now it's a matter of honing those skills as you become your own editor.

    FWIW. I hope that helps.

    __________________________________________
    Black Cat Studios http://www.black-cat-studios.com/
  • Skoob_yM mentioned that “Now it's a matter of honing those skills as you become your own editor.”

    I would suggest that it be better phrased as “become a better writer.” As pretty much everyone here already knows, I am strongly of the opinion that an author cannot effectively edit their own work. As you become more skilled, the more you can polish your work to a high gloss...but an author can never see their own work as objectively as an independent editor can. And that objectivity is of immense value.

    So, self-edit your work as carefully as you can, but never fail to have it eventually vetted by an objective eye.
    __________________________________________
    Black Cat Studios http://www.black-cat-studios.com/
  • I have to underscore what Skoob_ym said about information dumps.

    What you tell your readers should, first of all, come as a natural part of the story-telling. You should never lecture directly to the reader. “He brushed his carrot-colored hair from his eyes” is better than “He had red hair.” Second, information should not be presented for its own sake but should add something relevant to the story or our understanding of a character.
    __________________________________________
    Black Cat Studios http://www.black-cat-studios.com/
  • Okay, now we're getting some helpful critique, progress! Ron's advice is growing on me, I found a copy of Writer's Market "Guide to Literary Agents 2018" and got a new list of agencies I want to query...but now I would like some observations on my Query Letter...I don't know if I should do a new thread asking on thoughts or post it here.

    I wish the four of us could all chat on a Discord Server or Skype.

    Thanks a lot Skoob for those suggested revisions!
  • Ron MillerRon Miller Professor
    edited September 2018
    Okay, now we're getting some helpful critique, progress! Ron's advice is growing on me, I found a copy of Writer's Market "Guide to Literary Agents 2018" and got a new list of agencies I want to query...but now I would like some observations on my Query Letter...I don't know if I should do a new thread asking on thoughts or post it here.

    I wish the four of us could all chat on a Discord Server or Skype.

    Thanks a lot Skoob for those suggested revisions!
    I will take a look at your query letter when you post it.

    In the meantime, read the entry for each agency carefully. Like most publishers, literary agents will have very specific submission standards. These must absolutely be followed to the letter! 

    Also in the meantime, you should investigate publishers you can approach directly with your book. There are a number of good reasons for trying that. Among these is the fact that submitting your book to an agent is almost exactly like showing it to a publisher, except that because an agency can accept only a very limited number of new authors, you have to pass through a much finer-meshed screening process. And if they do accept you, they will likely run your book through an editorial gauntlet not unlike that of a publisher.  Like the editor at a publisher, the agent is trying to make your book the best it can be. (And, again, it is up to you to implement any changes. Reputable agents will not touch a word of your book.) And if your book does find a place, you may have to go through a lot of this all over again.

    Just be prepared for all of these things.

    Anyway, Writer’s Market contains excellent, reliable advice on how to approach agents and what to expect.

    http://black-cat-studios.com/
    __________________________________________
    Black Cat Studios http://www.black-cat-studios.com/
  • What you tell your readers should, first of all, come as a natural part of the story-telling. You should never lecture directly to the reader. “He brushed his carrot-colored hair from his eyes” is better than “He had red hair.” Second, information should not be presented for its own sake but should add something relevant to the story or our understanding of a character.

    One over-used term is, he had salt & pepper hair. I see it used so much I now hate the term!

  • What you tell your readers should, first of all, come as a natural part of the story-telling. You should never lecture directly to the reader. “He brushed his carrot-colored hair from his eyes” is better than “He had red hair.” Second, information should not be presented for its own sake but should add something relevant to the story or our understanding of a character.

    One over-used term is, he had salt & pepper hair. I see it used so much I now hate the term!

    No one in the cited text is described as having salt-&-pepper hair, even if you push it, push it real good.
  • Okay mister format-nazi

    Gosh, if this was Germany you would be arrested for using that term. But I see you complied anyway  :)

    If we were in Ulan Bator, you'd be riding a yak. So what?
  • Skoob_yM mentioned that “Now it's a matter of honing those skills as you become your own editor.”

    I would suggest that it be better phrased as “become a better writer.” As pretty much everyone here already knows, I am strongly of the opinion that an author cannot effectively edit their own work. As you become more skilled, the more you can polish your work to a high gloss...but an author can never see their own work as objectively as an independent editor can. And that objectivity is of immense value.

    So, self-edit your work as carefully as you can, but never fail to have it eventually vetted by an objective eye.
    In one sense it's like hiring a housekeeper and then cleaning up so the cleaners won't think your house is a mess. Or washing your car before you take it to a car-wash.

    On the one hand, objective eyes (that is, someone else's eyes) are always better; on the other hand, you want as much rough work done as possible before you take other suggestions about honing the work to a fine finish. We can both name at least three writers whose work we would not undertake to edit though the heavens fall, because those writers have not done the rough work.

    I agree that an objective and qualified second editor is necessary as well. 
  • If we were in Ulan Bator, you'd be riding a yak. So what?

    In most countries the use of the word in that manner is deeply insulting, obviously, not to mention an outlawed political movement. That's so what.

  • No one in the cited text is described as having salt-&-pepper hair, even if you push it, push it real good.

    Are you for real? It was an example of an over-used term in general. I was replying to the post regarding the over-use of 'block' character descriptions, and that does include the over-use of clichés. But I would have thought I would not have to explain that to an intelligent person.

  • If we were in Ulan Bator, you'd be riding a yak. So what?

    In most countries the use of the word in that manner is deeply insulting, obviously, not to mention an outlawed political movement. That's so what.

    So in future, if you are taking a fascistic approach to grammar, you prefer to be called a Grammar-Yak? Is that your point?
  • Syntell, I like the fact that you take criticism well and see it as a tool, rather than an obstacle. Many people don't take that attitude, and it's good to see someone who understands.
  • So in future, if you are taking a fascistic approach to grammar, you prefer to be called a Grammar-Yak? Is that your point?

    Read what you are commenting on, before you comment. You do tend to be very confrontational and antagonistic towards my postings for no reason. It was nothing to do with grammar. I suggested he post samples in here rather than offer a link to some site he had his draft on. And from there on, he did  post bits in here ...

  • Skoob_ym said:
    Syntell, I like the fact that you take criticism well and see it as a tool, rather than an obstacle. Many people don't take that attitude, and it's good to see someone who understands.
    Thank you, I've grown a thick skin due to being told by nearly everyone that no one's going to read this book. It hasn't fazed me from pursuing to publish it anyways. At least here, you gentlemen are civilized. I've had trolls from Reddit, Tumblr, even AO3 say insulting hurtful things and just laughed because at least someone READ my work.

    I really would benefit from either one of you Beta Reading the manuscript for me, I know you're busy Ron, but Skoob? Kevin? Hmmm....Kevin I think would tear me a new one. LOL, J/K
  • Skoob_ymSkoob_ym Teacher
    edited September 2018
    I would hesitate to undertake a project that large at the moment. I have a couple of irons in the fire, not just literary projects, so it would impose an unfair delay on your project.

    I appreciate being asked. I'll be glad to help with specific passages that you post in here.

    You might check to see if there is a writer's group nearby. Beta-for-beta is a common trade-off in such circles. There's a group near here, but I haven't bothered; it's in another town and I don't think I'd get along with the others there (though I did read a couple of their books).
  • Thank you, I've grown a thick skin

    That does help greatly, particularly when using the internet.

     due to being told by nearly everyone that no one's going to read this book.

    Well I don't recall us telling you that. It's up to you what you publish.

     It hasn't fazed me from pursuing to publish it anyways. At least here, you gentlemen are civilized.

    Some of us do try to be.

     I've had trolls from Reddit, Tumblr, even AO3 say insulting hurtful things and just laughed because at least someone READ my work.

    Again, as I have said to you before, that's par for the course. Some only use the internet to attack people simply because they can do so from the safety of being behind a PC, and usually not using their own names. The time to worry is everyone slags you off.

    I really would benefit from either one of you Beta Reading the manuscript for me, I know you're busy Ron, but Skoob? Kevin?

    I for one do not have the time. My reading habits are often just an hour a day, and of SF by well-known established writers. Plus, of course, I am busy writing my own stuff an hour or two a day, and not to mention also trying to live a 'normal' life. I rarely spend more than an hour a day in the forums.

     Hmmm....Kevin I think would tear me a new one. LOL, J/K

    Nah, but I don't believe in beating about the bush or being over diplomatic, because it's unfair and wastes peoples' time. It's best to start off being honest. Oh, I am also English, in the UK, and we don't speak with the same attitude as most of the world (think Simon Cowell perhaps.)

  • Well, I thank you all for your input.  I'll keep searching for Beta Readers, and Querying.  I'm giving myself the next three months to get representation, then self-publish. One day, I'd like to buy the three of you a beer. Hold me to it!
  • Ron MillerRon Miller Professor
    edited September 2018
    Well, I thank you all for your input.  I'll keep searching for Beta Readers, and Querying.  I'm giving myself the next three months to get representation, then self-publish. One day, I'd like to buy the three of you a beer. Hold me to it!
    I would appreciate the beer, of course, but otherwise I don’t think you are being realistic. If you have read through the Writer’s Market guide, you will have seen that it can take well over a month to hear from many agents (many of the entries will tell you how long it may take). Besides, you first need to hear back about your query letter, which is not going to be instantaneous, then, if you are asked to submit your MS, you need to hear back about that. It is not realistic to set a deadline as short as the one you have given yourself.

    I think, too, that you are too focused on finding an agent. There are a great many traditional publishers, including a large number of major houses, that are glad to see unsolicited submissions. For instance, your book sounds like the kind of thing Algonquin would take a look at.


    __________________________________________
    Black Cat Studios http://www.black-cat-studios.com/
  • Well, I thank you all for your input.

    It's what we (try) to do.

      I'll keep searching for Beta Readers, and Querying.  I'm giving myself the next three months to get representation, then self-publish.

    That puzzles me, it sounds like you are looking for a lawyer! But if you intend to self-publish, what do you need a rep for? (assuming you mean an agent.) If you have the money it sounds like you would need a PR.

     One day, I'd like to buy the three of you a beer. Hold me to it!

    No doubt the plane fares would be expensive.

  • Well, it's been a long process but Call Numbers has finally been published. I want to thank everyone here for their advice and insight. if anyone is interested, feel free to purchase a copy for $2.99. looking forward to the next project! Cheers
  • Skoob_ymSkoob_ym Teacher
    Welcome Back! Glad to see that you got it into print. The first one is always the hardest. Looking forward to reading it!
  • Skoob_ymSkoob_ym Teacher
    Okay, It's a solid character-driven story, with a lot of twists and turns, and some seriously devious intrigue behind the scenes. Speaking as one writer to another, there are some artistic choices I might have done differently, but there is no doubt: You Sir, are a writer.

    Actually, the bit flipping call numbers at the other clerk, names of the lions, lines from Shakespeare as a shibboleth -- It actually made me rethink my career choices. I coulda been a contender... And that's art, when you make the reader rethink his life.

    But -- no spoilers -- the last page was a bit of a dirty trick.

    Well done.
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